Under the Dome

Episodic | 2013-2014
CG Supervisor: Armen Kevorkian
Studio: Encore Hollywood

S1E01 “Pilot”
S1E05 “Blue on Blue”
S1E13 “Curtains”
S2E02 “Infestation”
S2E13 “Go Now”


Truck animation and destruction
Particle TD / Butterfly wrangler.
Smoke and Fire


Thinking Particles

Season 1 : Truck Crash

This whole sequence was originally shot as a live action piece. There was a cable attached to a real truck that would be destroyed by the cable wreaking the front. They would then remotely drive the truck at full speed until the cable stopped it. Those Special Effects guys are crazy!

But the reality is if you want to see a truck hit an invisible wall then VFX is your answer. With that switch we got to add some fun additions like: groceries spilling out, debris artistically flying out and milk splashing against the invisible dome.

The truck was custom-built to compress and break where we decided. Almost every technique was tried : 3dsmax cloth, hand animated morph targets, other software. We ended up using Thinking Particles to drive the event.

Besides the work it took so smash a cg truck we also had to deal with up to 6 camera all shot at different frame rates, as the original footage was a real truck. This meant our CG had needed slowing down to the camera with the most FPS. This was around 120 fps. A lot of creative frame skipping and motion blur settings were used for each camera angle.

Truck Crash
Plane Crash

Season 1 : Plane Crash

How do you show a plane traveling around 115 mpg hit a wall? Lots of smoke, fire and debris all while pleasing the TV censors. You can only be so violent for prime time. The plane was designed to crack, break and rip apart in certain areas. In addition a bunch of parts like the engine were created as extra debris. The whole sequence again was a Thinking Particle simulation.

That’s a lot of aluminum going nowhere fast”. We created the effect by slowing the whole timing down. This allowed the system to crunch the plane and distribute debris without going crazy at sim time.

Season 2 : “I’m the Butterfly Wrangler!”

In my most involved season yet I was told “Next season we’re gonna need about 1 million butterflies”. This very quickly evolved into millions and millions.

Each butterfly started off as either a simple or high resolution model. I needed the most bang for your render buck when it came to showing a swarm. I had a sitting, walking around, take off, flying, and landing state. These were all driving by a custom Thinking Particles script I wrote.

My Thinking Particle system consisted of a few artist driven tools. The amount on screen was extremely important. Being able to determine HOW many should be flying in any shot and a shot placed collision object was an important request.

After the main simulation was done it was then passed off to Frost to incorporate the meshing and animation timing. I used linear indexing pulled from the original sim to pick which animations should be used.

“I’m the Butterfly Wrangler!”